Musketeers Hold Off Creighton and Win 10th Straight
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier and Creighton engaged in a high level up-tempo game at Cintas Wednesday and the Muskies won in a photo finish 90-87. XU improves to 14-3 overall, 6-0 in BIG EAST(Now tied for 1st w/ Providence). PC has a mid-week bye. The Friars face a daunting road test Saturday vs uber talented Creighton in Omaha (2 PM EST Tip-FS1). X has won 10 in a row. They post their 3rd NET Quad 1 win (3-3) to go w/ "Ws" over UConn and West Virginia. X is now 9-1 at Cintas (only blemish-two point loss to Indiana). Defensive stops were hard to come by all night! Creighton led at the half 46-45. It took a strong XU finish w/ 3 pointers from Jerome Hunter and Souley Boum to reel the Blue Jays in over the final 2 minutes from up 7 points.
CU 7 footer Ryan Kalkbrenner prospered inside (11 points) as Jays outscored Muskise 22-12 in the paint. The pace stayed hectic in 2nd half. CU forward Baylor Scheierman rained in "3s" and scored from mid-range(25 points total). He knocked down one 30 footer. Creighton forged a 70-64 lead w/ 9:20 left.
Sean Miller shuffled his line-up going w/ one BIG(Jack or Zach) and 4 quick Colby Jones- Souley Boum-Jerome Hunter and either Adam Kunkel who fought foul trouble of Frosh Des Claude. The line-up worked-XU embarked on an 8 point run over two minutes and grabbed a 72-70 lead.
Miller tried about 4 different guys guarding lefty sniper Scheierman. X took away his catch shoot 3 balls and made him put it on the floor. After nailing 4 of his 1st 5 from "3", Baylor missed is last 3 tries and was forced into several turnovers.
Hunter was HUGE again(12 points-3 boards in 20 minutes) and Claude marked Scheireman plus scored 5 in 24 minutes.
"It was Des Claude's best game at Xavier. He was out there for 24 big minutes and was out best defender no matter who he guarded."
X won the bench scoring stat 17-3 in a basically even game in most categories. Muskies solved a surprise zone defense thrown up by CU late. BIGs Zach and Jack struggled to score but teamed up for 22 rebounds and worked the offensive glass well vs the zone down the stretch. XU won rebound numbers 41-30 and 2nd chance points 15-7.
Muskies seemed home free leading 86-79 w/ just 1:14 left. PG Souley Boum had taken over w/ some amazing ball handling-a fancy aray of scoop lay-ups and timely 3 pointers (basically the whole offensive package).
Creighton kept punching though! XU could not get the ball to closer Boum for FTs. Two one and one front end FTs were missed. X turned the ball over. CU nailed 3s. Xavier led just 86-84 w/ 22 seconds left.
Colby Jones blanketed Scheierman off an inbounds play and forced a HUGE turnover. Boum was fouled twice and knocked down 4 FTs(he's now 31-26 from the line in final 5 minutes of XU's 6 BE victories). Boum had a heck of an evening(26 points-8 assists-0 turnovers in 39 fast paced minutes).
Miller on his game closer:
"Playing in a game that fast w/ no turnovers is hard to do. Then add in 26 points and 8 assists and pressure FTs and it's unreal. Souley is special-going back a few years-like Tu Holloway."
Colby stepped up w/ 20 points and a plus 9 in a game XU won by just 3. His "D" vs CU's #55 was crucial like the end of game stop he made on Seton Hall PG Kadary Richmond to secure a 73-70 Muskie win in late December. Entertaining-Up-tempo-High Level! What's not to like?
Muskies host Marquette Sunday(Noon-BIG FOX). #25 MU took out #6 UConn Wednesday 82-76 in Milwaukee. Marquette is 6-1 in BIG EAST(only loss in 2 OTs at PC). Should be a wild one Sunday at Cintas! Shaka Smart arrives bringing his Havoc Defense to Cincy. Its another NET Quad 1 opportunity for XU.